Background: The chemokine fractalkine (CX3CL1, FKN) is involved in neural-microglial interactions and is regarded as neuroprotective according to several in vivo studies of inflammatory and degenerative states of the brain. Recently, an association with outcome in human ischemic stroke has been proposed. In this study, we aimed to investigate the temporal pattern of FKN levels in acute ischemic stroke in relation to stroke severity and outcome. Methods: FKN levels were measured in plasma specimens of fifty-five patients with acute ischemic stroke. Blood was available for time points 6 hours (h), 12 h, 3 days (d), 7 d and 90 d after stroke onset. Clinical outcome was evaluated using the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) at 7 d and 90 d. Results: The time course of FKN significantly differs depending on stroke severity, with higher FKN levels linked to a lower severity. FKN levels in patients with moderate to severe strokes differ significantly from controls. In outcome analysis, we found an association of dynamics of FKN with clinical outcome. Decrease of FKN is pronounced in patients with worse outcome. Multivariate analysis including stroke severity and stroke etiology revealed that deltaFKN between 6 h and 3 d is independently associated with mRS at 90 d. In addition deltaFKN is inversely correlated with the extent of brain damage, as measured by S100B. Conclusions: FKN dynamics are independently associated with stroke outcome. Further studies might give insight on whether FKN is actively involved in the inflammatory cascade after acute ischemic stroke.